You’d think this would be a gimme, given that the Chicago Bulls had just knocked off Golden State, the NBA’s top team but no game is easy in the NBA. You have to earn the win. And, LA (13-34), playing not to go any more of a free-fall than they’ve had lately, put an end to it with a 123-118 2OT win. This was a game the Bulls let get away. Leading by 5 in the first OT, the Bulls couldn’t finish the Lakers off. A timely shot, a measured shot, eluded Chicago, and Jordan Hill made a late basket to tie the game at 106 to give LA a 2nd chance.
They took and wore down the Bulls who clawed their way back into the game on a 9-0 spurt late in the 4th quarter. When Derrick Rose hit a trey to open the OT, things looked good for Chicago fans. But the Bulls misfired on shot after shot, at one point, missing 9 of 10 shots. LA took the opening and closed the door on the Bulls. Credit the Lakers, they played inspired if erratic basketball without the sidelined Bryant.
Wayne Ellington scored 23 for LA. Jordan Clarkson had 18 points. Carlos Boozer, an ex-Bull, welcomed his old team by chipping in with 16 points. The Lakers were stagnant in the first OT and Chicago had a chance to get some separation but poor shooting did in the Bulls. Chicago hit only 41.3% from the floor and it wasn’t enough to overtake the pesky Lakers.
Jimmy Butler, who was selected to his first All-Star game earlier, tied his career high with 35 points and played 49 minutes. He appeared to tweak his knee and sat out the last few minutes of the game. Pau Gasol came close to making his first game back in LA a good memory, by scoring a late basket in the 4th to tie the game at 98. He ended up with 20 points and 10 rebounds in 43+ minutes. Derrick Rose had an up and down night, scoring 17 points on 7-16 shooting. Joakim Noah put out an almost heroic effort making passes, grabbing loose balls, to help Chicago get their lead in the first OT. His fiery emotions registering on his face.
LA was determined to come out the victor. Brent Barry, TNT commentator said the Bulls might have taken the Lakers lighly. He said, they started to play better in the 4th quarter but that was not enough to merit the win. This was a tough road loss. Too many missed chances to put it away came up empty.